Is Paddling Making a Comeback in America’s Public Schools?

Schools in Marion County, Florida could see a return of the paddle if incoming board member Carol Ely has her way.

Ely, who is set to begin her term on the Marion County School Board, says that her experience running Shady Hill Elementary School in Ocala for 14 years made her a believer that this form of discipline is one of the most effective available to schools.

ClickOrlando.com is reporting that Ely might have enough pull with fellow board members to make this goal a reality. On previous occasions, Ely said that to be most effective, paddling should only be used sparingly and only on children who repeatedly misbehave. She added that during her tenure at Shady Hill, the number of kids who were paddled more than once was extremely low, indicating that the punishment worked to correct wrong-doing.

She said that there should be strict rules about paddling, which she promises to add to the proposal when she brings it up for a vote in November. School staff would be limited to using it only in extreme circumstances and only with permission from parents.

Linda McLean, a Marion County parent, said that she’d be willing to sign off on in-school corporal punishment.

“I would let them get a spanking and when they get home they would get another one for disrespecting school,” said Linda McClean.

But there are others, like Jarrilyn Taylor, who think that schools that paddle encroach too much on parental prerogative. Taylor said that she doesn’t think anyone should be allowed to hit her child.

Meanwhile in Texas — one of 19 states that allow paddling in schools — one district is considering lifting a restriction on corporal punishment that required that paddling could only be administered by staff members of the same sex as the student. Springtown Superintendent Michael Kelley said that requirement meant that genders weren’t being punished equally since a small district often has a shortage of administrators of one or the other gender.

The new rule would instead require that an administrator of the same gender be present in the room while the paddling was taking place, but wouldn’t have to be the one to administer it. In addition, parents must provide explicit permission for their child to be able to receive corporal punishment.

“We don’t have a very large district and in our middle school there is only an assistant principal, who is a female,” Kelley said. “If the old policy remains in place, then the parents of the boys at the middle school would not be able to request corporal punishment.”